Sunday, 28 June 2009


Sometimes it is not much fun being a provincial gal. I see the same faces every day and generally speaking they are of the same colour and creed as me. There is little true adventure to be found in a small Cornish town, no tubes, trains or fast cars; no celebrities, gossip and intrigue. There are days when one hankers for a bit of stimulation beyond the everyday minutiae. But then an event occurs in said small Cornish town that makes me smile broadly and be delighted to be part of the community.
For instance, were a Sainsbury’s supermarket to open in, Balham let’s say, I doubt very much whether anyone would turn a hair; it would just be another day, another shop. In Torpoint however it has been a major event. How could you not be excited though when, on arriving at the store you are met with the local town band, a glass of buck’s fizz is thrust into your hand and the children are handed balloons and chocolate? If that weren’t enough, everyone was there. Literally everyone. My neighbours, fellow parents, the local photographer, seemingly three thousand staff and my brother, who seemed more than content wandering the aisles filling his trolley with gastronomic delights.
“Have you seen this Alice?”, he asked me, brandishing a tub of houmous under my nose.
“It’s houmous”, I replied. Really I didn’t want to rain on his parade but there is only so much animation one can muster for a paste of chickepeas.
“Ah, but it is not just any old houmous”, he continued, “This is chunky houmous and look at this” and he held out his arm elegantly like some magicians assistant, to show me the cool cabinet, stuffed to the gunnels with every imaginable take on the humble Moroccan dip.
“Look, with pesto, with chilli, with lemon and..”
“Ok, ok, I get your drift”, I said rather impatiently, “What else has caught your eye?”.
We meandered down through farinaceous products and ended in the bakery aisle.
“I mean just look at this bread Alice”, he said, inhaling deeply a speciality number, “Isn’t that just calling out for some Brie and a bit of chutney?” and before you could say unpasteurised he dragged me off to peruse the continental cheese selection. My seven year old, ever impressed by marketing and consumerism, was thrilled with the whole affair. Combine that with her natural bent for the theatrical and it was a potent mix, therefore, as she flung her arms into the air, a balloon on the end of a stick in one hand, declaring “This is all a dream come true”, she enthusiastically whacked some dear old soul clean in the gob. This was our signal to leave but not before my daughter had very magnanimously handed her free chocolate bar to the old woman.
“Got to go”, I said to my brother, “I shouldn’t be here at any rate. I have so much to do”
“What time is your flight?”, he asked, munching on his free boiled sweet.
“Some ungodly hour of the morning. I have to be on the 3.30 ferry to get the flight at 6am”. He whistled.
“Wow-wee. Are you driving yourself?”
“Nope, Hubby is taking us.” My brother looked impressed.
“Hey, it’s the least he can do seeing as he won’t actually come on the holiday.”
“He never relented then?” my brother asked.
“Nope. He truly believes holidays are the devil’s work only taken by wimps, whereas most normal, adult males consider them essential in not only spending precious family time with their soon grown up children, but also a time to unwind, de-stress and perhaps even enjoy”.
“You’re not bitter then I see?”, said my brother giving me a huge bear hug.
“I’m past it. I just hope all goes well and that neither of these two darling daughters nor I are ill over there. What will I do then?”
Like everyone else to whom I’ve bandied the same question, he brushed it away and said, “Oh don’t think like that. You won’t be ill. It’ll all be fine. You’ll have a wonderful time”. These people evidently have never been on holiday with my family.
Hoping for some karmic, what goes around, comes around affair, I dropped some money into a charity box and returned to my car, before dropping the youngest girls at school then returning home to my list of ‘to-dos’.
What had seemed like an awfully big adventure back at the beginning of March now seemed nerve-racking. Was I mad to travel to Menorca with two little girls, leaving a husband at home to organise the packing and sending off of a teenage daughter on her own school trip? He not only had her welfare to consider but that of my darling dog and son and heir, whose dinner suit had to be picked up from Moss Bros for his girlfriends prom and whose day to day existence had to be carefully monitored lest some unfortunate circumstance befall him. Idle hands and all that. I looked at my list for the millionth time. Passports, Euros and tickets? Check. Driving licence and credit cards? Check. Teabags, washing-up liquid and enough pharmaceuticals to open my own chemist? Check. I just had a bit of laundry to address and I was all set.
That evening, as I once again rechecked everything, the seven year old came to ensure that I’d packed her party frocks.“I’m very concerned you’ll forget them. I must have something to wear to the disco”. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that where we were going was actually very quiet on the nightclub front and that she’d be hard pushed to a bar let alone a disco ball. I can imagine her reaction when she realises it’s not Monte Carlo, “What sort of backwater hell-hole have you brought me to?” before demanding her money back.

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